Impeachment of Mirabeau B. Lamar

The list below shows the elected presidents and vice presidents of the Republic of Texas during its existence:

PresidentVice President
David G. Burnet (Interim)
Mar. 16, 1836 – Oct. 22, 1836
Lorenzo de Zavala
Mar. 16, 1836 – Oct. 17, 1836
Sam Houston
Oct. 22, 1836 – Dec. 10, 1838
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Oct. 22, 1836 – Dec. 10, 1838
Mirabeau B. Lamar
Dec. 10, 1838 – Dec. 13, 1841
David G. Burnet
Dec. 10, 1838 – Dec. 13, 1841
Sam Houston
Dec. 13, 1841 – Dec. 9, 1844
Edward Burleson
Dec. 13, 1841 – Dec. 9, 1844
Anson Jones
Dec. 9, 1844 – Feb. 19, 1846
Kenneth Anderson
Dec. 9, 1844 – July 3, 1845
Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission

To have some idea of the votes received in these elections, the total votes received were posted in an issue of the Dallas Weekly Herald in 1874. During the days of the republic, the president and vice president were elected in separate ballots for each office and not as a “ticket” such as we have now in the federal elections. The result was that the president and vice president could actually be political rivals, and they indeed were in some cases. In 1836, Houston received 4,374 of 5,704 votes and Lamar received a majority with 2,699 votes. In 1838, Lamar received 6,995 of 7,247 votes and Burnet received 3,952 of 7,138 total votes. In 1841, Houston received 7,915 of 11,531 total votes and Burleson received 6,141 of 10,477 total votes. The final election saw Anson Jones receiving 6,994 of 12,689 votes and Anderson receiving 9,951 votes of an unstated total. His opponent was Patrick Jack who had died during the months leading up to the election.

During Lamar’s first term as president of the republic, he had been elected for a three year term. Lamar had a broad vision for the future of Texas that included expanding its border further to the west, some say all the way to the west coast. Lamar authorized the ill fated expedition to Santa Fe in an effort to secure some of the territory that is now part of New Mexico.

In the summer of 1841, a group of a little more than 300 soldiers and civilians headed to the northwest out of Austin with a goal of establishing trade to help the currently poor Texas economy. It was not an actual invasion in the military sense, since an invasion would have required a large army, but nevertheless was doomed from the beginning. They suffered from a lack of planning and provisions and also got lost on their way. The delays and lack of resources cost them dearly. They were pretty much out of resources by the time they crossed into Mexican territory. The so called Santa Fe Expedition ended when they were captured by Mexican troops in north central New Mexico. There was some fear initially that they would be executed, but they were held in Mexico City until their release was negotiated in 1842.

Houston was elected to serve as the third president of the republic in the fall of 1841 to be inaugurated on December 14 of that year. Before he officially took office, an unnamed member of the Texas congress introduced a resolution condemning Lamar’s role in the Santa Fe matter. The speaker of the house, Kenneth L. Anderson, authorized a committee to investigate the matter.

Kenneth L. Anderson was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1841. He had been voted Speaker of the House on November 1 of that year. Anderson was born in North Carolina in 1805 and by the time he was twenty, he was living in Bedford County, Tennessee where he served as a deputy sheriff and later sheriff. Anderson married and moved to Texas around 1837 where he again served as deputy sheriff and sheriff around San Augustine. Anderson then studied law, was admitted to the Texas bar and was appointed by Lamar to serve as director of customs for the district that included San Augustine. Anderson served in that capacity until he decided to run for the Texas House of Representatives in 1841.

Sam Houston and Lamar were political rivals and disagreed on many key issues such as relations with the native tribes, whether Texas could stand on its own against Mexico or whether it needed the resources of the United States, financing the operations of government and the like.

Anderson was said to have been an ally of Houston. The committee that he appointed held that Lamar had erred in authorizing and funding the Santa Fe expedition without the approval of the Texas congress. It recommended the impeachment of Lamar, despite the fact that Lamar’s term as president was about to end. However, no vote was taken until after Houston’s inauguration on December 13, 1841.

Four days after the inauguration, December 17, 1841, the Texas House of Representatives voted on whether or not to impeach Lamar. Houston is said to have personally opposed such a vote, fearing that it could possibly hinder Texas later joining the United States, a move that he favored. Anderson disagreed with Houston and opted to pursue the vote. When the numbers were tallied, thirteen votes favored the resolution and twenty-five opposed it. Accordingly, no further action was taken, and the consideration of Lamar’s impeachment ended.

Anderson was elected vice president in the fall of 1844, becoming the last vice president of the Republic of Texas under Anson Jones. A key accomplishment was the annexation of the Republic of Texas into the United States in June of the following year upon approval of the measure by the Texas Congress. He had left for home despite being sick. About twenty miles into his journey, he is said to have died at the Fanthorp Inn on July 3, 1845. At the time of his death, he was thirty-nine years old. He was buried there in the Fanthorp Family Cemetery in what is now the town of Anderson, Grimes County, Texas. It is said of him that he would have been a leading candidate to become the first governor of the State of Texas had he lived. Both Anderson as well as Anderson County in East Texas are named for him.

Lamar continued to be active in public life and served in the Texas legislature after Texas became a state, though he is not known to have sought the office of president or vice president of the republic after his term that ended in 1841. In the years leading up to the Civil War, he is known to have favored Texas’ succession from the Union, another point on which he and Houston disagreed. Shortly after after returning from a South American diplomatic mission, Lamar died of a heart attack at his home in Richmond, Fort Bend County, on December 19, 1859. At the time of his death, he was sixty-one years old. He was buried in the Masonic Cemetery now known as Morton Cemetery in Richmond.

After having moved to Huntsville the previous year, Sam Houston died in his home there on July 26, 1863 from complications of pneumonia at the age of seventy. He was buried in a Masonic ceremony in Oakwood Cemetery.

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